Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ceiling Fan & Roof Work

On Monday I installed a ceiling fan in Treese's home office, one of two ceiling fans we scored for free over the weekend thanks to Craigslist. One was white, the other brown, and both were in very good condition. I installed the white one and disassembled the brown one to box up for storage. I figure I'll use it to replace the ceiling fan in the gazebo at some point since the weather has not been kind to that one. It's the first time I've been in the attic since we had the new air conditioner and heater installed, and it was quite a mess up there. They left an empty cardboard box, cut zip ties, old metal bands, a bunch of tape scraps, PVC pipe scraps, and more. They also broke the light bulb and the face plate for the light socket/light switch combo. I understand being exhausted after a hard days work in the attic but they did come back a second time to finish the job, and a third and forth time to run tests so seems like they could have cleaned some of it up. And also let me know that they broke the face plate and light bulb so I could have replaced them.

Yesterday I had a handi-man neighbor, Dave, come by to help me with my roof valleys and gutters. He brought a friend with him who did the gutters while he did one of the valleys and put some tar-like stuff around the seals of the various pipes that come out of the roof. I watched how Dave did the valleys by using a crowbar to push the tiles along the valley back in place before using his air blower to clean them out. It was similar to how I cleaned the valleys except I didn't know about pushing the tiles back up. That only gets the very center of the valley clean, though, so at some point we'll need to have a professional remove the valley tiles to really clean the metal area below.

I also trimmed the branches of the tree that was spanning over the roof, the one that squirrels like to use to jump on the roof. I was able to get most of them thanks to my long branch saw. Then I worked on fixing the storm door. It was slightly slanted and so would scrape against the the edge when closed. Dave helped me re-align it, using the same screw holes in the metal frame but angling them away to create new screw holes in the wood. It worked great but then I noticed the storm door frame was pulling away from the wall at the bottom because the bottom of the metal frame was being pushed out by that lip of the regular door frame on the ground. I either needed to take the whole storm door off and shift it up a smidgen or cut off the little bit of metal pushing against the lip. I chose the latter as it seemed easier and thankfully it worked. The storm door is now flush against the wall and closing properly.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Blast from the past

I have successfully restored most of the forums, topics, posts, and user accounts that were lost in the great server crash of 2013. The restoration was no easy task, and merging into the existing forums was even more difficult but it seems to be working okay. More details can be found in the Blast from the past: pre-crash forums restored... mostly thread.

Speaking of the past, my friend Conor sent me a couple pictures he found of me that he had taken back in the mid-to-late 90s sometime. I was so skinny with huge glasses! I completely forgot that I used to have my desk angled like that instead of flat against the wall. I'm not sure of the exact year the pictures were taken, but it had to be at least 1995 because that looks like Windows 95 or 98 I'm using on my computer and I have a Power Rangers Falconzord on top of my monitor which was released in 1995. It was also before 1999 as that's when I moved to Redding. Can you find any more clues in the pictures to narrow down the year?

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Cats vs Solar Torch

When I went outside this morning I noticed one of the solar torch lights we have along our walkway was just laying on the ground without its plastic post. It was right in the spot where we had it posted in the ground but the post that holds it up was nowhere to be found. I was confused, thinking who would want to steal a short plastic pole for a solar torch and not the light itself? So I went back through the security camera footage and at 12:49am two blurs zipped across the screen and plowed right through the torch post. When I ran it back at normal speed I saw it was two cats running full speed, one chasing the other, with the lead cat crashing through the solar torch so hard that the post flew into the nearby bush and the torch top fell right in place:

We were finally able to get American Home Shield to send out a different company for a second opinion on our air conditioner. They sent Cold Snap Air Conditioning, who arrived this morning. He found the same valve leak that JR from Service 1 found but after fixing that he did a test with nitrogen and also found a second leak in the condenser coil which Service 1 didn't even bother to check. He also concurred with our assessment that some of the duct work needed to be replaced. He then smelled a gas leak which he was able to confirm and get fixed. So we were very happy with his service.

Monday, July 1, 2019

HP Laptop Keyboard Install

I installed the backlit keyboard in my HP laptop this weekend. What a chore that was! I used my soldering iron to melt all the plastic rivets, carefully prying up the metal back plate as I went along until I could lift it enough to have access to the underside of the keyboard. I then had to melt more rivets so that I could pry up the keyboard. When I put the new backlit keyboard in I found that there were three notches which did not line up with the plastic pegs on the laptop. Argh!

The backside of the keyboard is metal so I couldn't just use scissors or a utility knife to cut out notches, and my tin snips don't offer the level of precision I would need, so the only option I could see was to cut off the plastic pegs that didn't align. There wasn't enough room to get even a small utility knife in there so I cut them with nail clippers and then filed them down the rest of the way with a metal nail file. Once I put the new keyboard in place I made some new notches with hot glue. I also used hot glue to recover all the plastic rivet tops I had melted away. I had tried spreading the plastic out with the soldering iron to make new heads but it just wasn't working.

I spent pretty much the entire day on this keyboard replacement and am happy that I got it done and it worked. This keyboard feels much nicer than the original and has a backlight so I can see what I'm doing even in low light. The whole process soured me on HP, though. They could have used screws or plastic clips but no, they designed it this way on purpose. Not cool, HP! I'll definitely think twice about purchasing an HP laptop in the future.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Laptop Repair Day

Last week I sold my old laptop to someone off of Craigslist, and only a few hours later he contacted me saying there was a spot on the back that was getting really hot, like burn-your-skin hot. He was understandably upset thinking I had pulled one over on him but relaxed when I offered to meet him the next day. When I did, he showed me a mark that had formed on the back cover and also where the plastic had melted a bit up near the top. Very weird. I had never seen anything like it. I returned his money and he still expressed an interest in buying it if I could figure out and fix whatever was causing this bizarre issue.

Later that night took the screen off to see what was happening behind it. As it turns out, it was the webcam wire. For some reason it was getting hot enough to melt plastic, and very quickly too. Only moments after turning on the laptop the wire got hot enough to become uncomfortable to the touch. Had I left it on much longer it surely would have melted more of plastic. There must have been some kind of short in there, though very weird that it only manifested the day I sold it.

I ordered a new cable which arrived today. The webcam wire is part of the display cable so I had to replace the whole thing which runs from the base of the laptop through the hinge and up to the screen. That meant I had to pretty much completely dissemble the entire laptop, carefully run the wire through the nooks and crannies, then put it all back together again. It took awhile but I got it done and now it's working good as new.

My next project will be installing a backlit keyboard into my current laptop. I've done keyboard replacements before and they've always been pretty simple, but this one is going to be a huge pain as it turns out the newer HP laptop designs do not actually provide access to the keyboard. If you want to replace one you're supposed to replace the entire palmrest area which is quite expensive. They trap the keyboard between the top of the palmrest and a metal plate underneath with the two parts being molded together with plastic rivets, so to get access those rivets have to be either cut off or melted with a soldering iron. And there are a lot of rivets! I am really not looking forward to this.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Jumping lizard tail!

On Monday when I opened the garage door in preparation for heading to my platelet donation appointment I noticed a lizard sitting near it. This lizard was smaller than the one we saw in our house last week. Apparently the noise and motion of the garage door rising scared it so much that its auto defense mode kicked in and its tail came off! The tail didn't just lay there or wiggle back and forth, it actually jumped and hopped and flopped around like it has having a seizure while the lizard remained relatively still. It was so weird looking! I can easily see how that would be distracting to a predator.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Southern alligator lizard

We found a little friend hiding out near our shoes yesterday evening, though perhaps little isn't the best adjective to use as this lizard was like 7 inches long not including the tail which was also quite long. I tried to encourage him to head out the front door but that didn't work and it instead made it's way down the hall where we lost sight of him. We had to leave so wasn't able to look for it. Then later we found it once again in our pile of shoes near the front door. I opened the storm door so it could get out if it desired then just let it be. Haven't seen it since so maybe it left. I looked it up online and believe it to be a Southern alligator lizard. Not dangerous but if it feels threatened it can release its bowels as a defensive technique so I'm glad I didn't try to grab it.

JR from Service 1 Heating and Air finally texted me back late this morning saying he couldn't get through to American Home Shield yesterday but that he was on hold with them now. I don't know if I believe that or not. I've never had any problem contacting AHS, but even if he did have a problem why didn't he text us yesterday to say so instead of just ghosting us all day? AHS then called to say we needed 8 lbs of Freon at $80/lbs and they would only cover $10/lbs so we would have to pay $560. They also said they wouldn't pay anything towards a new A/C unit if we decided to go that route. So now we're considering our options. We're in the process of getting an appointment to have an energy audit from SHHIP and have an appointment with another company to get an estimate for a new A/C unit.